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Even Now

In the Monday Men’s Group we just wrapped up our study of Joel, and speaking for myself, I loved the time I had to dig into the short book. For a lot of us, the first thing that comes to mind when we think about Joel is that it’s the locust book. Lots and lots of locusts. And if we have any thoughts past locusts, we think about impending judgment and doom, and the Day of the Lord. The truth is that yes, there is plenty of locusts, plenty of doom, and plenty of gloom to be found in Joel. But if you are paying attention, you also get such a beautiful glimpse into the Lord’s heart for His people.

After pronouncing future judgment, Joel says in 2:12 “Even now – ”. And with those two words, Joel signals that all has not been lost forever. Even now, there is hope. Even now, there is a right response to the Lord. Even now, the Lord longs to forgive. But why? Why does the One who brings judgment also have so much to say about His desire to give grace?

The answer is rooted in God’s character. We see Him revealing this about Himself in Exodus. In Exodus 33, Moses asks to see God’s glory, and God responds by saying “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name YHWH before you.” This sets up the scene in Exodus 34, where Moses is up on Mount Sinai, and God proclaims His name, YHWH. And as He passes in front of Moses, what else does He proclaim? He proclaims His character. He says “YHWH – YHWH is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love and truth, maintaining faithful love to a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing consequences of the father’s iniquity on the children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.”

Do you see it? Who is this God? He is a God who is ready and willing to give grace, to forgive, to receive His people back to Himself. And so Joel takes his cue from this oft-quoted part of Exodus (did you know it’s quoted 9 times in the Old Testament?) to remind the people that “Even now”, it is not too late to be saved.

So what is the remedy? Repentance! But not just repentant actions. No, they need a repentant heart. He calls for them to “turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning.” And then he tells them to “Tear your hearts, not just your clothes”. What does repentance look like? It is an inward heart condition of deep contrition. If your heart isn’t torn up over the sin, then it’s not repentance. It’s just actions that mimic repentance.

Oh, I pray that we all would have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Lord is after from us. He is after our hearts. May we have tender hearts toward the Lord, ready and willing to see our sin for what it is, to turn the Lord in genuine, heart-felt repentance, and to enjoy the confidence in His forgiveness, which was forever secured for us by Christ, on the cross. Let us not grow complacent, taking that gift for granted!

Ryan Donovan

PS – Men, we will be starting Amos next Monday if you wanted to join us for the next five weeks! 7:00-8:30 in the Sanctuary at EBC. Consider yourself invited!

Categories: Evergreen Connection